Focus on driver training rather than technology, regulations: OOIDA

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) says current discussions about safety technologies and revisions to hours-of-service rules ignore the need for better training standards for entry-level drivers.

“Instead of relying on technology and making misguided, hours-of-service regulations changes, the focus should instead be on training standards for entry-level drivers,” said OOIDA executive vice-president Todd Spencer.

“Despite orders from Congress in 1991, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has still not made training new drivers a priority.”

Spencer noted changes to the US hours-of-service rules implemented last year have caused many drivers to spend more time on the road and less at home. He also noted fatigue is rarely the cause of truck-involved crashes.

“Statistically, fatigue almost never is the cause of truck-related crashes and yet the data is grossly exaggerated to 30 or more per cent,” said Spencer.

He cited FMCSA statistics that indicate fatigue is a factor in just 1.8% of truck crashes.

“Truckers are not causing the majority of highway crashes, but are unfairly blamed,” said Spencer. “Most are doing their best to drive safely as hard-working individuals and should be recognized for the sacrifices they make and the contribution they make to the economy.”

OOIDA has launched a Web site dedicated to highway safety at

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  • I agree, more time and effort should be invested in new driver training rather than more changes to regulations that are already thought up by people who have never driven a truck for a living !
    When I started OTR driving in 1985 I knew nothing about living on the road for extended periods of time, and my backing skills were VERY basic.
    Over time I learned to live well while spending up to 4 weeks away from home, learned to cook in the truck, get proper rest and deal with OTR daily stress.
    I became a certified trainer after 15 years experience and tried to pass on to entry level drivers what I had learned through trial and error.
    Since then I have tried to interest truck schools to add more hours of backing training into their courses ( trainers don’t spend enough time on it now because “its boring”) and OTR trainers often don’t let their rookies do the backing at customers because it takes too long, so many new drivers are left on their own to figure it out when they solo and this many times leads to failure. I used most of my waiting time to let my trainee practise backing.
    New drivers usually have no idea how to set up a truck to live comfortably in it for days at a time, they don’t know what to take, ( I had a trainee show up ready to go for a 2 week trip and all he brought was his pillow ! ) I made a list of what they would need and made sure any future trainee had a copy.
    They need advice on eating well and not depending on truck stop food.
    I think OTR trainers should be certified to teach. I have seen “trainer” with less than 1 year experience training other drivers and I have seen this work out very well, its the attitude that counts, they haven’t developed the “Billy Big Rigger” attitude and usually the good ones were taught by a Professional Driver not a Trucker.
    I have offered to set up a program for living in a truck to add to the local training school near me it would take less than 4 hours but so far no takers, if these entry level drivers were better prepared the turnover rate would be a lot less.